Let’s machina: Our proudest Opus Magnum machines

I'm not even sure what this does. But it works.

The fever of alchemical engineering has descended on the RPS team like a dank fog. Opus Magnum is the new Zachtronics puzzler that asks you to make some hair gel out of salt and a hangover cure out of marbles. It’s really good. We’ve already shown you some mechanical marvels and talked about it on the podcast but since the game includes a “record GIF” button, we wanted to show off three of our own proudest creations. Come see the clockwork beauty of our well-oiled machines.

Lead Separation by Matt

Matt: Towards the end of the game, Opus Magnum occasionally tasks you with dismantling a molecule rather than putting one together. I like this one because, although it means I score terribly in the ‘area’ category, it’s spread out so that you can clearly see each part of the machine doing its thing. I also enjoy the stupidly long four-piston journey that one of those salt atoms goes on. That gif doesn’t feature my favourite thing about it though, which is the sweet ‘DUN DUN DA DUN DUN’ rhythm it churns out as each atom gets tucked into a product slot.

Precision Machine Oil by Graham

Graham: I decided to try Opus Magnum after seeing some friends compete over who could make solutions with the lowest number of cycles. They were sharing GIFs like the one above, of clacking machinery doing things I couldn’t follow. So I downloaded it, played far enough to reach the level they were sharing gifs of, and then I got to work. I’ve now been playing ‘Precision Oil Machine’, the level shown above, for about 10 hours, even though I’ve only played the rest of the game around it for about 2.

This GIF shows my favourite iteration in my work so far. It’s not my most efficient attempt, but it has an elegance to it that I find more satisfying than the others. It embodies something I like about the game generally: puzzle solutions have aesthetic qualities that exist separate from the game’s other measures of success. That’s why I was compelled to download it even after seeing solutions I didn’t understand, and why it’s so wonderful that the game has a ‘Make GIF’ button. It’s also why I’d recommend the game to people who don’t normally go in for these engineering-style puzzle games. In the levels I’ve played so far, finding the solution has never been too tricky and even the sloppiest of designs have made me feel proud of what I’ve constructed. It’s just fun to watch all those arms and atoms clunking back and forth.

Mists of Incapacitation by Brendy

Brendan: I was so proud of this creation that I entirely forgot it was producing a toxic gas for the purposes of urban warfare. When you complete the game’s puzzles, there’s often a moment of dissatisfaction. It slowly dawns on you that your work is flawed, you begin to notice the slow parts, the pauses in the machine, the waste. But with this gizmo, that sensation didn’t come. I like it because it is taut and precise. It is so compact that it should, by all rights, collapse in on itself. The arms look as if they ought to collide, the grabbers ought to quarrel, the elemental marbles ought to come spilling out of it like insecure glass eyeballs. And yet none of this occurs. Everything is timed just so. Ah, my beautiful toxic gas machine.

Opus Magnum is on Steam early access for £15.49/$20


  1. GrumpyCatFace says:

    I hate that I’ll have to go home and improve on all 3 of these now. :) Truly, a brilliant game.

  2. Varanas says:

    Graham is very right about the aesthetic qualities of the puzzles, I have saved so many gifs of this game just so I can go back and look at them later. However the one I am most proud of (so far, I think I’m about half way through?) is my water purifier, which in order to get the least cycles out of it has a slightly annoying jittery rhythm to it link to twitter.com

  3. li says:

    Err, why are you only showing the easier levels?

    • King_Rocket says:

      Because they are Game Journalists, not Gamers.

    • Railway Rifle says:

      As the headline and articles say, it’s the most pleasing gifs, not the highest level.

  4. kwyjibo says:

    Apart from turning solutions into gifs, does this scratch an itch that Spacechem doesn’t?

    • MondSemmel says:

      I feel like Opus Magnum has some quality-of-life benefits over SpaceChem, but it’s hard to put into words. There are very simple instructions for “repeat the last action” or “go back to the starting point”, for instance; you can move huge parts of your solution via simple drag & drop; instructions can be switched around via drag & drop, as well; etc.

      And as for the joy of optimization, the fact that you’re free to place inputs and products by yourself, and that you have an infinite canvas at your disposal, means that solving puzzles is probably somewhat easier (you can brute-force everything, whereas in SpaceChem, you struggled with space constraints more often), but you can also endlessly challenge yourself re: optimization (e.g. small machines are *really* small, whereas in SpaceChem, the distance between inputs and products was predetermined and had a minimum of 4 or so tiles).

      So far, I’ve mostly optimized towards compact machines with few components and small areas, but the speedy machines above also look really neat.

    • JarinArenos says:

      Like many others who have commented on the similarities, I can’t really describe the core difference. Suffice to say that I got tired/frustrated/bored of spacechem in a couple hours, but I am still obsessed with Opus Magnum. Might just be personal playstyle?

  5. Tikigod says:

    Some non-optimal designs that I’ve come up with trying to mix between efficiency and clockwork tones.

    link to i.imgur.com << Entire design was meant to represent a kind of "Precision Oil Gun" in the sequencing.

    link to i.imgur.com Examining how much can be done using pivoting and only mandatory grabber motion to complete.

    link to i.imgur.com << Timing coordination solution.

  6. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    I’m still optimising my ‘turn lead into gold’ machine, I’m convinced there’s a way to make it more efficient.

  7. Jekadu says:

    Here’s my solution to Lead Separation, optimized for area: link to twitter.com